« PreviousContinue »
them into general disrepute; and the most pointed measures have been adopted to contract the sphere of their exertions. But on this I forbear to expatiate.
Let not your Grace be carried away with the current of anti-evangelical zeal, or becalmed into inaction by a morbid apathy to any important sentiment. Let it not be regarded as a matter of indifference, whether the genuine principles of the Church be maintained or discarded; whether the Laity who attend their parochial churches be fed with “ the sincere milk of the word,” or starved on anti-christian semi pagan husks; whether they “ are taught as the truth is in Jesus b," or are tossed « to and fro and carried about with
wind o of doctrine Much may be done by the authority and exertions of a Primate, to banish the indifference, to rouse the torpor, to shame the inconsistencies, to correct the mistakes, to quicken the diligence, to animate the zeal, and to give a proper direction to the efforts, of the various orders of the Clergy. And if the conyersion of one sinner from the error of his way! be productive of such honour and happiness to him who is the instrument of the important change; what honour and happiness must await the Primate, whose exertions shall be rendered, by the divine blessing, the means of accomplishing among the Clergy of a nation such a change, as cannot fail of extending its beneficial influence ai Pet, ii. 2. * Eph. iv, 21. * Ephes. iv. 14. James v. 20. Dan, xii. 3.
through all the gradations of society, from the palace to the cottage! May this honour and happiness be enjoyed by your Grace !
May your Grace and all your Clerical brethren, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, both beneficed and unbeneficed, “study to show yourselves ap
proved unto God, workmen that need not to “ be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of trutha;" may you " in all things show yourselves patterns “of good works; in doctrine showing uncor
ruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that “ cannot be condemned ; that he that is of the “ contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil
thing to say of you b;" may you“ in all things
approve yourselves as the ministers of Godc;" so that, “ when the Chief Shepherd and Bishop “ of Souls shall appeard,” you “may have con" fidence and not be ashamed before him at his
coming e;" but, being“ found faithful stewards " of the mysteries of God,” may every one of you hear from bis lips the approving sentence, “ Well done, good and faithful servant 5”-and
entering into the joy of your Lord,” receive from his hands “a crown of glory that fadeth “ not awayh!
I am, my Lord,
A LAYMAN, April 30, 1812.
a 2 Tim. ii. 15.
b Tit. ii. 7, 8,
c 2 Cor. vi. 4. fi Cor. iv. 2.
The following work has been occasioned by a recent publication of Dr. Tomline, the present Bishop of Lincoln, entitled, “A Refutation " of Calvinism.” Some persons will probably think it a very presumptuous undertaking for an obscure layman to controvert points of theology with a dignitary of the church. But if what is advanced be consistent with truth, it can. not be of much importance from what quarter it may proceed.
It is not intended to follow his lordship through all the parts of his multifarious volume, in order to show the complete failure of his pretended “Refutation.” To expose the inaccurate statements, to confute the erroneous principles, to detect the fallacious reasonings, to overturn the unfounded conclusions, to repel the injurious accusations with which the work abounds, would require a book twice as large as that of his lordship.
But it is necessary to animadvert a little on one circumstance which will hardly admit of his lordship’s exculpation from the charge of unfairness and disingenuity.
« The design of the work” is stated in the preface to be “ to refute the peculiar doctrines of “ the System of Theology which was maintained
by Calvin." Yet it is evident from the beginning of the second chapter, and from various other parts of the book, that the real object was to confute and write down those who now pass under the general denomination of Calvinists. If this was not the real object, his lordship has travelled considerably out of his way, and might have spared his many censorious reflections on - these modern Calvinistic writers, these pro“ moters of schism, these arrogant enthusiasts, “ who endanger the church by their active hos
tility, propagating with unremitted zeal doc“ trines by which the credulity of unthinking
persons is imposed upon in the present times*.” For nothing of this could be necessary to the refutation of writings composed and published by Calvin above two hundred and fifty years ago.
His lordship is not ignorant that the majority of those persons who at present either assume or receive the appellation of Calvinists do not adopt every sentiment held by Calvin, p. 568, 569. Yet he pertinaciously insists on using the term as including the belief of every opinion maintained in the writings of that reformer. In justification of this practice, he affirms, that “its “ peculiar doctrines considered as a system are
*Pp. 54, 76, 142, 283.
so connected and dependent upon each other, " that if you embrace one, you must embrace all."
If this be merely a question about the propriety of applying the term Calvinism to any system which does not comprise all the tenets espoused by Calvin, it is a mere “strife of words,” and undeserving of further discussion. Only let it be observed, that Dr. Tomline is not justified in this case by the common use of terms of this description. It may be questioned whether it is in his lordship's power to specify a single instance of an appellation derived from the name of any eminent writer, especially a voluminous one, and used to denote a theological system, which in its common acceptation includes every sentiment maintained by the theologian whose name it bears.
If this be necessary to constitute Calvinism, it is easy to show a confession of faith framed by Calvin himself which cannot be denominated Calvinisticma confession of faith drawn up by that reformer to be presented to the French King on behalf of the Protestants of Paris.
But in writing against the modern Calvinists, is it not extremely disingenuous in his lordship, to attribute to them tenets which he knows they disavow, to represent them as responsible for conclusions which they abhor, and to argue on the supposition of their holding principles which were never held by Calvin himself, or by any